Shimano, headquartered in Osaka, Japan, is the world’s biggest manufacturer of bike components – some estimates put its share of the global market at over 50 per cent, much greater than rivals Campagnolo and SRAM. It was founded way back in 1921 by Shozaburo Shimano, first producing free wheels, and only exploded onto the world stage in the 1970s.
Among its innovations over the years have been index shifting, freehubs, dual-pivot brakes and 8-9-10 speed drivetrains. Previously popular with road racers, in 2003 it introduced ‘Dual Control’ for mountain bikes, where the gear shift mechanism and brake levers were integrated into one component.
Current Shimano products include drivetrain, brake, wheel and pedal components for road, mountain, and hybrid bikes. 10-speed group sets available for downhill and freeride bikes includes the top-of-the-range Saint, used by many of the world’s top riders including Andrew Shandro, Cam McCaul, Tracy Moseley and Darren Berrecloth, and the more economically priced Zee. Both models feature a hydraulic disc brake system with ‘shorty’-style levers and a powerful four-piston brake caliper.
Downhill teams that use Shimano-equipped bikes include the GT Factory Racing team of Gee, Dan, and Rachel Atherton, Trek World Racing, Gstaad-Scott, Santa Cruz Syndicate and Madison Saracen. Shimano is also used by the riders on Remy Absalon’s newly-formed Scott SR SunTour Enduro team – Absalon himself, plus Thomas Lapeyrie and Elliot Trabac.